A major turning point for energy resources occurred Friday when Britain’s National Grid announced 24 hours had passed without the use of coal energy. This is the first time in the 135 years since the world’s first coal-power plant, Thomas Edison’s Holborn Viaduct station, was built in London that the island has spent a full day coal-free.
Britain historically has much to owe to the resource, however, efforts to curb pollution are now gaining importance. Natural gas and renewable energy are becoming less expensive and countries across the world are implementing environmentally friendly policies. Both Britain and the U.S., formerly major coal users, have dramatically decreased coal consumption in recent years. In 2016 coal energy production in the United States fell by 18%. Britain was not far behind with a 14% decrease from 2015 to the end of 2016.
Efforts are being made to continue these decreases. This includes the British governments’ plans to shut down all coal plants by 2025. While a more easily attainable goal during the spring when sunlight and mild temperatures abound, powering Britain without coal is difficult during the months of more extreme temperatures.
In the past, plants which can easily be turned on in high demand called “peakers” have been used during the more severe months. Peakers often rely on coal meaning that without coal plants, the British power grid must change. Techniques like large-scale battery storage will have to be implemented to keep up the power supply during times of high demand.
In the world’s move toward sustainable energy use, this may only be a beginning step. However, if Britain can uphold its plans to eliminate the use of coal-powered energy a major impact will have been made. As other powerful countries follow suit, the world will experience a massive improvement in sustainability.
Featured Image via Wikimedia